Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 10 hrs ago
WASHINGTON, DC – He’s not jaded, nor overwhelmed by the expectations and disappointments that eventually crush the confidence of the Washington Capitals in seemingly every postseason.
Maybe Evgeny Kuznetsov didn’t realize Game 7 is where the Capitals’ journeys end, where their Stanley Cup dreams wither and die. Or maybe he’s just too new, too fresh and too blissful to know better.
“He has joy in his game. Joy in playing, joy in being at the rink,” said coach Barry Trotz of Kuznetsov, who sent the Capitals to the Metro Division finals against the New York Rangers with a Game 7 goal that eliminated the New York Islanders, 2-1.
“We always grow up and lose the boy in us, but he’s got the boy in his game and his attitude, and he’s got the maturity of a good young man.”
His game-winning goal captured that dichotomy.
There was Kuznetsov on the right wing boards. A veteran player might not think to just flip on the jets and skate to the middle of the ice like he's being controlled in a video game, the middle of the ice where few players had room to operate all night. But Kutznetsov went there.
“I know tickets are very expensive,” said Kuznetsov.
MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 12 hrs ago
WASHINGTON, DC – To win Game 7 against the New York Islanders, the Washington Capitals had to overcome Jaroslav Halak and history.
They turned to a player that had never faced the pressure of either in the playoffs.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, playing in his first postseason, scored his third goal of the playoffs on an awesome individual effort at 12:42 of the third period, giving the Capitals a lead they wouldn’t relinquish to eliminate the Islanders in seven games, 2-1.
"This is a new group," said Capitals coach Barry Trotz. "All that old stuff? Get rid of it. Let's build something. We could feel the energy [from the fans]. We weren't going to let that game go."
Kuznetsov took the puck on right wing and just flipped on the afterburners, skating through the slot with Frans Nielsen of the Islanders giving chase, out-waiting Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak and then scoring on an unstoppable shot to the top corner of the net.
Since Alex Ovechkin arrived in Washington, the Capitals had played seven Game 7s. They had won just two of them, and were 1-4 on home ice in Game 7s since 2008.
“They were tired. You could see it on some of the guys.”
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 14 hrs ago
Synergy! That’s the name of the game in Washington, DC, as Ted Leonsis’s Washington Wizards closed outthe Toronto Raptors on Sunday and then sat against the glass on Monday to watch Teddy AOL’s Washington Capitals play in Game 7 against the New York Islanders.
Now, if you had to guess which Wizards player would enthusiastically taunt the Islanders oh forget it you know it’s Paul Pierce:
The Truth had a huge grin on his face as the teams lined up for a draw and he got his glass-bang on.
Granted, Pierce still saves his best material for vanquished NBA foes, but hey, in the end, it’s pretty much just mocking a bunch of Canadians right?
Now, how do we get John Wall on the Zamboni…
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 16 hrs ago
It's Game 7 between the New York Islanders and the Washington Capitals from Washington, DC, and we're live chatting it!
Can the Caps overcome their Game 7 disasters? Can the Isles keep Nassau open with another round of playoff games (this time against the Rangers)?
The fun begins at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT. You bring the funny; we bring the insight, odd rugby photo on the template and the Hamburger Women.
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 17 hrs ago
The Washington Capitals host the New York Islanders in Game 7 of their Metro Division semifinal series on Monday night.
The Islanders successfully avoided losing their last game at Nassau Coliseum; they need to win to squeeze out a few more games in the old barn.
The Capitals meanwhile, are looking to overcome a decade of Game 7 failures, many of which had come at home.
Here are four keys to Game 7:
1. Forget The Past
Alex Ovechkin’s first Game 7 at Verizon Center was my first Game 7 at Verizon Center: Joffrey Lupul, scoring an overtime winner on the power play in 2008. That game had something I’d experience in the other Game 7 losses for the Capitals: a creeping sense of dread throughout the game, and then a collective panic when adversity struck.
Game 7s in DC tend to create a sold-out building and a home bench full of clenched sphincters from the opening whistle on. Coach Barry Trotz has asked the Capitals to learn from losing five of seven Game 7s during the Ovechkin Era; they’re better off just trying to forget they’ve ever happened, or else repeat the sins of the past.
Speaking of Ovechkin …
2. Backstrom and Ovechkin vs. Tavares
The captain has to lead in Game 7.
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 19 hrs ago
Corey Crawford is nothing if not patient. All he had to do was wait until Scott Darling fell apart like he did in the first two games of their series against the Nashville Predators, and the Chicago Blackhawks net was his again.
Crawford was named the starter in Game 1 of the Blackhawks’ Central Division championship series against the Minnesota Wild scheduled for later this week. He entered Game 6 in relief of Scott Darling (3 goals, 12 shots, 11:16 TOI), sparked a rally and made 13 saves on 13 shots to close out the Preds.
Earlier in the series, it was Darling who replace Crawford in Game 1 of the series and sparked a Blackhawks’ rally for a double-overtime win. Crawford got a chance at redemption in Game 2, but gave up six goals in the loss and then handed the crease to Darling for the next four games.
But now it’s Crawford again, as the guy signed for $6 million per season against the cap through 2019 gets the start over the guy who earned $570,000 this year. Yeah, we know: Spoiler warning...
Crawford was 32-20-5 with a .924 save percentage for the Hawks in the regular season. He was 2-2 against the Wild this season with a .948 save percentage and a 2.02 GAA.
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 21 hrs ago
“Most people don’t realize how close we were to actually getting an NHL team.”
That was Mike McGinn, former mayor of Seattle, speaking to the Seattle Times last October. One year earlier, the Glendale City Council approved a lease agreement that kept the Phoenix Coyotes from potentially relocating.
That potential relocation site? Seattle, according to the Times:
Three sources with knowledge of negotiations confirm the Coyotes would have been bought by New York investment banker Ray Bartoszek and his partner Anthony Lanza and moved to Seattle as soon as the following day — playing up to three seasons at KeyArena — had the vote not passed.
Two sources with first-hand knowledge have confirmed New York investor Bartoszek had moving trucks on standby to relocate the team to Seattle. They say a Seattle financing specialist had helped Bartoszek line up local investors to own a small piece of the franchise.
But what if an arena was built on another site?
From Chris Daniels of KING 5, a must follow on this story:
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 23 hrs ago
Like spoiled milk, moldy cheese and that Russian dressing that’s been on the fridge door since the Bush administration, Ken Hitchcock has an expiration date.
His first head-coaching job in the NHL remains his longest tenured one: Seven years with the Dallas Stars, 503 games, with a Stanley Cup and two Western Conference titles.
Then came four years and 254 games with the Philadelphia Flyers before being fired in 2006. Then came four years and 284 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets before parting ways in 2010.
He’s coached the St. Louis Blues for four seasons and 281 games.
Look, there’s no denying the effect Hitchcock had on this franchise. His systematic structure produced four straight playoff years – Year 1 had him taking over for Davis Payne after 13 games – with the Blues twice finishing first and twice finishing second.
But their six-game bow to the Minnesota Wild is the third straight season that they’re out on their asses in the first round. This year’s loss came at the expense of the best roster, on paper, that GM Doug Armstrong has given his coach. And it wasn’t against the Kings or the Blackhawks. It was against a team they should have beaten.
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 1 day ago
Brendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens is one of our favorite players, because he possesses that unique blend of offensive, physicality and the ability to be an unrepentant little weasel that gets under the skin of opposing players by any means necessary.
Like, for example, mocking an injury.
Please recall Game 1 of the Habs’ six-game victory over the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, in which rookie sensation Mark Stone took a stiff slash from P.K. Subban in front of the Montreal net. Stone went down in a heap, writhing in pain, before leaving for the locker room. Subban was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
Stone returned to the game, and even tried to get into an altercation at the end of the game. Which probably didn’t set well with the Habs, judging from what Gallagher did in Game 6.
As Stone and Gallagher jawed at each other, Gallagher skated away smirking, and then shook his right wrist at Stone, which was the wrist he suffered a micro-fracture on after the Subban slash.
(Reading some lips, it’s pretty obvious their scholarly discussion was about their relative toughness.)
Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 1 day ago
When Andrew Hammond grabbed the Ottawa Senators’ starting goaltender job, Craig Anderson couldn’t grab a stick.
His right hand had a deep bone bruise, keeping him out of the lineup. With Robin Lehner injured as well, Hammond was given his shot as a 27-year-old rookie on Feb. 18. He would go on to finish the regular season with a 20-1-2 record, going 14 straight starts without a regulation loss.
Anderson became a forgotten man, a footnote to a folk hero. He wanted to take part in this Senators’ resurgence, but he physically couldn’t; at one point, he was teary-eyed in front of reporters in discussing how the situation was “killing” him.
To that end, he was an insurance policy, much like he was when the Senators began their series with the Montreal Canadiens with Hammond between the pipes. By Game 3, Ottawa cashed in the policy, yanking their folk hero and turning back to their former starter.
All he’s done since then is stop 120 of 123 shots, posting two wins with a .976 save percentage.
MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY